White Sox

Konerko-less Sox shut out by Blue Jays

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Konerko-less Sox shut out by Blue Jays

The South Side heat wave has cooled off.

The White Sox managed only two hits against Brandon Morrow and lost for the third time in four games, dropping a 4-0 decision to Toronto on Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field.

The loss trimmed Chicagos lead in the AL Central over Cleveland to a 12 game in being manhandled by Morrow, who threw his AL-leading third shutout of the season and tied Justin Verlander of Detroit for the AL lead in complete games with three.

Morrow (7-3) only allowed five baserunners, including one through six innings. The only hits came on a pair of singles by A.J. Pierzynski. Other baserunners came when Adam Dunn reached on an error in the seventh and was walked in the ninth. Morrow also walked Alejandro De Aza in the ninth.

Morrow struck out five as the Jays beat Chicago for the second night in a row.

Sox rookie left-hander Jose Quintana (1-1) took the loss in his third career start. Quintana flirted with trouble in the first four innings, but some timely pitches and a couple stellar defensive plays kept the game scoreless.

The best of those defensive plays came in the second when third baseman Orlando Hudson snared a line drive by Yan Gomes that appeared destined for the left-field corner, which would have scored Kelly Johnson easily from second.

Quintana pitched himself out of trouble in the fourth, stranding runners at first and second by getting Gomes to pop out to Pierzynski in foul territory behind home plate.

Even when his luck ran out in the fifth, Quintana benefited from a good defense play as the Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead. With David Cooper at second, Colby Rasmus drove the ball into left-center field to score the run.

But Rasmus was out when he tried to stretch the hit into a double as Dayan Viciedo threw a strike to Gordon Beckham at second, easily getting Rasmus for the innings final out.

Jose Bautista gave the Jays a 2-0 lead with his 15th home run of the season, a 423-foot shot into the left field seats to open the sixth against Quintana.

Quintana was replaced by Nate Jones to start the seventh. He gave up two runs on nine hits (eight singles) with one walk and one strikeout. He also threw a wild pitch.

The Sox used three pitchers in the seventh to get out of a jam they pitched themselves into. Jones gave up two singles after striking out Gomes to start the inning. Jones then got Brett Lawrie on a pop-up to Beckham before being replaced by Will Ohman.

Ohman hit the only batter he faced -- Rasmus -- to load the bases with two outs. Jesse Crain entered and struck out Batista to squelch the threat.

The Sox finally got another base runner with one out in the seventh when Dunn reached on an error against the infield shift. That snapped a streak of 14 consecutive batters set down by Morrow.

But the Sox stranded Dunn at first as Viciedo struck out and Alex Rios hit a fly ball to the edge of the right-field warning track.

Pierzynski led off the eighth with a single, just Chicagos second hit off Morrow. But pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge was caught stealing to put a stop to any momentum that might have started.

The Jays stretched their lead in the ninth on a two-run home run by Rajai Davis, who hit a Hector Santiago pitch into the Sox bullpen.

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.